Writing tips for authors appreciated.

I am sure all of you have something that you Like to see in a novel, and something that you Don't like to see. I'd like for this thread to become a compendium of knowledge with regards to writing stories. Well, maybe i will start?

Well, for me its more or less like that.

 I like if:

- There are more characters that we get to know well besides MC through the story, but still we are keeping 1'st plane role of MC (No multiple MC stories for me!)
- There are no lengthy descriptions of anything like in old books. It's nice to describe places and objects, but i'd rather not read 5 paragraphs about how beautiful this scenery is~
- Power-levels are clear and we are told about them through the story, not all at once in first chapter.
- MC is not totally overpowered machine that kills everything on his path with no effort and is deus ex machina who is always right and always comes with best conclusions, makes correct guesses with no prior knowledge etc.

I don't like if:
- There are author notes in middle of chapter.
- If language is below certain level that makes it unpleasant to read.
- If language is Over certain level, using too ambitious words for the type of story that is being described.
- Releases do not follow certain schedule.
- Side characters appear all the time just to get killed 5 pages later.
- If MC is shallow, for example, somebody supposedly close to him dies, and he griefs over it... But we never really got to see MC being close to this person apart from few lines of text.

Hmm, i could think of much more, alas, for now i will leave it at that. So, all of you, do you have other things you like, or don't like to see in novels? :)
If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!

Comments

  • I don't like when people mix up words like quite/quiet, there/their/they're, your/you're, or were/where. They're very basic words that shouldn't be mixed up even if they look similar.

    Some examples of proper usage:
    You're quite ugly.
    You're quiet.
    There is your cat.
    Their cat is ugly.
    They're your cats.
    Where are you?
    Why were you here?

    I dislike when people use commas instead of periods. These are generally people who read translations that are too lazy to fix any grammar errors or put in periods. So they get influenced by that and just use commas constantly. That's just abusing the comma.

    I also dislike when people mess up when it comes to quotation marks and apostrophes. They're not that hard. Use quotation marks to indicate spoken dialogue or add emphasis to a certain word or phrase. Use apostrophes to indicate thoughts, show possession (except for it's), show a contraction, or to replace quotation marks within quotation marks.

    Ex:
    "Why are we here?"
    "What do you mean by 'Why are we here?'"
    'What am I doing?'
    "That's Fred's weapon."
  • for me I would like to stress 1 key point that is arguably as important as the story itself.... GRAMMAR

    you CANNOT be an author of a story if you cannot keep your names straight. use words with the correct meanings and not just ones that have the same phonetic reading.

    There is nothing worse than trying to get into a potentially great story than constantly having your flow disrupted by spelling, unnatural conversations, names constantly changing and extremely verbose paragraphs where a few simple sentences could have drawn roughly the same image.

    Another thing I guess would be LOGIC/REALISM. It sounds stupid when put into the context of magic or the supernatural or alternate worlds, but you have to remember that readers draw comparisons to what they know in order to better understand what has been written. You cannot call a spell "fire" for example and then make it behave like water or ice, the same goes for trying to camouflage it using foreign words (yes I have seen people try this), google is a thing and people aren't stupid, they WILL search to see what the word means. when I say logic, I mean if you slap someone the logical and realistic response is they will react in the appropriate way according to their natural, scowling, shouting, slapping back, maybe even cowering in fear if the situation or personality matches. However a "superpowered slap" won't sent a person flying, it will sooner just snap their neck or break their limbs unless there is a defense acting to prevent such.

    It is an old saying that Authors cannot create a character smarter than themselves, so don't try to. Yes, I have heard the argument "what about that guy from big bang theory?", Proper research has been done before that character was made, he is smart, but that isn't what you see or read defining his actions, his personality quirks are what you see, for example, the funny "room agreement list" or "my spot". Making a smart person is fine, you can't make a god-genius. make the personality and abilities fit what is actually needed, if he is going to fight he doesn't need to be a rocket scientist, if he is going to run a store he doesn't need to be able to command and lead a country. The more details you try to put in, the harder it is to write and the tighter the noose you put around your neck later on.

    genres: Try to focus on just a few simple things you want your story to definitely have and ignore the rest. Do you want the story to be about your MC traveling and learning about the world he lives in or was summoned to? then it is an Adventure type. Is there any danger, will he need to be able to protect himself on the journey? then there is action. Lots of things can end up being added in that could be considered story types, but if they aren't the main focus, don't mark them as such. An example I had to give before, just because your MC meets a girly looking boy or transgender or meets someone who changes form between the 2, doesn't automatic make it a GenderBender ;) (unless the ones shifting are part of the main focus and it has influence on the general story)

    Oh and also POV... keep it consistent. Either you want to look at the story through the characters eyes or you don't, some scenes don't work depending on which view you use, if you want to use both do so from the beginning so that readers know there will be shifts in the point of view depending on what the story is telling. when a person is scheming in their head and we want to know what they are thinking, use 1st person view. If they are in a fight and you want to accurately detail everything that happens, regardless of whether the character can see or sense it, use 3rd person view.

    Sorry, I am a little verbose myself, but I hope the above helps.If in doubt, keep things simple. people like things that are easy to read and understand so there is no need to give yourself and the readers too much extra work that can be avoided ;)
  • All of these are actually pretty helpful. The only thing I can't really promise is the power levels, at least in The Ancient's Son, being very clear. Things are going to reach ridiculous heights later on.
  • edited July 2015
    Like in most novels, Arkanon :P Having a lot of them, though, is not barrier for them to be clear. I also am including many factors in what i am writing now, and later on only more will appear, hehe ~~ It's important to keep track of it as an author ^.^ If author can't, then how could reader possibly understand them? xD
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • Ah, I didn't entirely understand what you meant when you said that. Anyways, enough wasting times on the forums for me, I need to get typing.

    I procrastinate too much.
  • Humu, i on the other hand need to start proofreading and fixing parts i am not satisfied with of my first chapter ~~ Hopefully i will be able to release it in few hours ~~
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • If you need any help with anything, feel free to ask me. I'm not the strongest grammar wise, but if you're looking for an opinion on your story, I'd be more than happy to help.
  • Yeah, i will be happy if you find some time to read and comment on it in depth when i post it :) I want to improve myself, instead of having people proofread chapters for me, so i am looking for any constructive criticism, be it grammar side, or story side of things, hehe :)
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • Also, due to an invalid argument from an inept person off site. I should also stress the below:

    Reading lots of web novels or lightnovels DOES NOT make you capable of writing your own story, just because you want to mimic their style. the vast majority of these are written by amateurs who have never so much as looked at a single writing guide before making their story. Certainly there are lots of popular stories, and the reviews may or may not be sparkling, but please remember that reviews don't have to tell the truth. A "popular" story may be absolutely terrible.

    As for accuracy and reliance consider this: what language was the story first written in? if it is not your native tongue, then you must have read a translated version (assuming you cannot read in a 2nd). How much of what you read do you think was in the original novel? did they translate it literally, or for the sake of the readers, did they fancy it up a little and fix a few of it's errors before releasing it to be read?

    what is my point? read lot's of different things. get used to seeing the vast majority of way things are done. however, this applies to published material. published material has to go through strict reviews before it ever see's the light of day (with the exception of self-publishing). this means that the quality has to pass a certain degree before it even goes to print. Once you get used to reading, it becomes easier to write. However just reading a hundred books won't tell you how to write one. so the solution this time? read "writing guides", these are often true and tried practices used by published authors who have actually sold at least a single copy of their book.

    Not all guides will apply, some will argue you should do things in a specific way. don't take that too seriously if it's telling you 1 way is better than another. read a lot of guides, see what options are available and how they are effectively used and only then start to seriously write your story, it will come out much better than if you hadn't.

    Yes I use "Published" as my defining factor, because good stories people are willing to pay for, self-published may be of some value but only if they actually sell a significant number of copies, say 10'000+ or something. The biggest tragedy in writing when it comes to new authors is the tragic case of "The blind leading the blind" that happens when a person thinks they can write a story because they are imitating someone who is writing for the first time themselves under the same basis.

    Web Novels are good places to look for idea's, but not for how to write.
  • Not sure if it is cultural, but I notice that Chinese novels tend to be far far more descriptive than English ones.
    Sure you get descriptive English novels, but they tend to be more about describing people or culture or society.
    Chinese novels, on the other hand, are the ones that spend multiple paragraphs on how stunning the scenery is...
  • Let the librettist and free spirit throw her two cents in this thread. Contrary to others, I do believe you can write a story even if you only read web novels or light novels and mimic their style. How does one learn if they don't have parents to mimic? Also, we seem to be forgetting something in this thread which a book is meant to inform, entertain, or persuade. It doesn't actually have to be original, even we strongly wish it would be. A book is meant to be a way for the author to express herself or himself. Though, Steven king once expressed it best you have a few people that like it.

    Quick to do list
    [_] Create Character(s)
    [_] Pick a type of narration
    [_] Plan - Explore Ideas, Outline
    [_] Revise - Make global Revisions, Edit, Proofread


    Resources Below
    image

    image

    Point of View

    It highly suggested to pick basic type to begin writing, but you are free to do otherwise. Though be cautioned that others might not agree with your choices.

    First Person

    1. The Protagonist


    Relatively straightforward, this is a story the hero narrates. He’ll
    narrate the same way he talks, but with more description and perhaps
    better grammar. The reader is privy to all his thoughts and opinions,
    which means we get to know the hero faster, and often relate to him more
    easily.
    Example:


    …I take up my pen in the year of grace 17–, and go back to the time
    when my father kept the “Admiral Benbow” inn, and the brown old seaman,
    with the saber cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.
    Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

    2. The Secondary Character


    Someone close to the protagonist, but not the main hero. The same
    things in the above type apply to this type, but the focus of the story
    moves away from the narrator.
    Example:

    “Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” said Stamford, introducing us.

    “How are you?” he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for
    which I should hardly have given him credit. “You have been in
    Afghanistan, I perceive.”
    “How on earth did you know that?” I asked in astonishment.
    “Never mind,” said he, chuckling to himself.
    Watson in A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Third Person

    • Third person omniscient


    This type knows all, peeking into the lives of major and minor
    characters, reading everyone’s thoughts. This enables the writer to
    explore multiple facets of the story in depth. Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart trilogy, for example.

    • Third person limited


    This type knows only what the main character, or characters, know. This
    is more restrictive, but increases suspense and intrigue, because the
    reader only solves the mystery at the same time the characters do. 1984, by George Orwell, is a good example.

    The following types can fall into either omniscient or limited:

    3. The Detached Observer


    A detached third person narrator sticks to telling the story, and never
    inserts his own opinions—never slips in an “I” or a “me” except in
    direct dialogue. You probably won’t notice voice at all. It’s fruitless
    to give an excerpt showing what a writer didn’t do, but Orwell’s 1984 is, again, a good example.

    4. The Commentator


    This type never physically enters the story, but freely adds in his own
    amusing commentary. Allows voice without the complication of using an
    existing character.
    Example:


    The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into
    a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face-to-face with the
    unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I
    am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
    A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

    Somewhere in Between

    Or maybe the narrator isn’t a strict “third person,” but is involved in the story in some way.

    5. The Interviewer


    This type has collected the details of the story after it happened,
    such as by interviewing the characters. This lends a sense of reality to
    the story.
    Example:


    It brought both a smell and a sound, a musical sound. Edmund and
    Eustace would never talk about it afterwards. Lucy could only say, “It
    would break your heart.” “Why,” said I, “was it so sad?” “Sad! No,” said
    Lucy.
    The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis

    6. The Secret Character


    Sometimes a narrator only pretends to removed from the story—they may
    refer to themselves in third person right up to the end, but will
    eventually be mentioned by some other character, or revealed to be a
    major character, even the villain, for an extra-pleasing plot twist.
    Example:

    “Lemony?” Violet repeated. “They would have named me Lemony? Where did they get that idea?”
    “From someone who died, presumably,” Klaus said.
    The End, by Lemony Snicket

    7. The Unreliable Narrator


    Usually first person, but occasionally third, an unreliable narrator
    has a flawed point of view. That is, the writer intentionally made him
    biased, misinformed, insane, etc. Examples include Nelly in Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë, or Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. Here’s one from Poe.

    Example:

    “If
    still you think me mad, you will think no longer when I describe the
    wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night
    waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered
    the corpse.”

    The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe

    Some
    of these (such as the Unreliable Narrator) are established terms, while
    I’ve coined many of them myself. Can you think of any other types? What
    type are you using in your work in progress?


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    Eight Elements of
    Plot Outline

     

    1. Story Goal

           Ex. Oranges Take Over the World

    2. Consequences

          Ex. Success means that people become Oranges

    3. Requirements

         Ex. Destroy the Apples and Bananas

         Ex. Kill the Hero

    4. Forewarning ( Consequence getting Closer)

        Ex. Hero is revived into an orange

    5. Costs

        Ex. Orange Fail dies in a forest fire

    6. Rewards

      Ex. The demon die of the plague they created

    7. Prerequisites

       Ex.  ....

    8. Preconditions

       Ex. ....

     

     ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Protagonist- Oranges

    Antagonist- Lemons

     

    Theme - End of the World

     

    Moral - Eat fruit not vetagables

     

    Setting - It kingdom far far away.

     

    Rising action Events
    - The seer declares war on the demon tribe, conduct a ritual to create a guardian spirit.

    Climax - Evil Orange Spirit is created.

    Conflict – Hero dies

    Fall action - lots of human die of the lemon plague, demon act start fire,

    Conclusion - The world becomes an orange


    Disclaimer: There were no oranges harmed in the process of writing this post. ;)

  • edited July 2015
    Umm....why does this feel like school???!!! :O lol Very detailed guild ya gave us Mr./Ms. Tasear. Thanks you, I will probably be looking at it a lot.

    EDIT I read the Inkheart books in elementary. They were amazing!
  • nicely compiled tasear. your post gives a clear cut view of the basics to consider no matter what type of story you plan to write. I agree with the book comment, but still personally think that if a person want's their story to be read and popular they should put in the proper effort required for such. especially if they want to improve and not just write the same kind of stuff until they run out of idea's.

    Published books are the end of the line for the story, it's too late to make changes and fixes that weren't done before sending to print. digital novels however, end up written quite sloppily a good portion of the time due to the thought process of "I can always come back later and fix it then instead". A lot of beginner writers complain when their story isn't popular as they think it should be, and yet don't realise that readers are quite picky on what they spend their time on.

    (I have seen someone write a story where each chapter isn't any larger than 500 characters, terrible grammar and absolutely no story flow, hollow characters with impossible chains of events. then they complained when their reviews were terrible and no-one came back to kee reading it. As if they had a duty to just because it was posted *shiver*)
  • Haha, one of reasons i was not too happy about RR being the popular site for novels, was that their community was just too 'forgiving' and not willing to accept any form of criticism. That's why appearance of this forums made me want to work harder ^.^
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • Caladbolg said:

    Haha, one of reasons i was not too happy about RR being the popular site for novels, was that their community was just too 'forgiving' and not willing to accept any form of criticism. That's why appearance of this forums made me want to work harder ^.^

    haha it's not forgiving :P its that the people who rate don't actually know how to use their brain to judge quality and assign a review, which is the point of the system lol xD It's either "oh I read it and kind of liked it, might read more... 5 stars" or "meh wasn't my thing even though the tags made that obvious at first glance... 0.5 or 1 star".

    The ones posted here may just be a breath of fresh air. As long as people make the first post a general summary/synopsis with accurate tags so people can judge if it's their thing before having to read and be surprised :P 
  • Hey all, this was super helpful. I've done a little writing in the past, but nothing of what I hope to be this caliber. Just some crappy fanfictions and the like. Though they were well received at the time, I don't believe that FF is such a uhhh, good assessment of quality. That said, I thank you all who are giving words of advice to people who just like to write. When I finally put some words to paper and get a little bit of a stockpile written up, I hope that you all will like what I can make from this.
  • Caladbolg said:

    Haha, one of reasons i was not too happy about RR being the popular site for novels, was that their community was just too 'forgiving' and not willing to accept any form of criticism. That's why appearance of this forums made me want to work harder ^.^




    RRL is actually starting to get better in that aspect. Main reason I'm here is because I want to branch out my style of writing by writing a Xianxia.

    On RRL, you can become the top fiction by having VR, harem, and lots of chapter releases. I've always been bad at writing VR and harems so I'm hoping the bias on this site will be more in my favor.
  • Let's leave topic of RR and any other novel/fiction hosting pages, uuuh. I think it's waste of time to point out those things here, and only enemity with their devoted readers might come from that later ~~ Sorry for kinda starting it, though, uuuh. *.*
    If you'd like more chapters of ISSI or Tales send me a note on patreon!
  • edited July 2015
    Oooohh. Thanks a lot for the guides, guys! I may use this thread as reference whenever I get the free time and get a sudden spark of inspiration to try my hand on writing. Another thing I know I need to work on is expanding my vocabulary and know the proper usage of punctuation marks. It's neat to know a lot of different words with the same meaning, so you won't sound monotonous. My English Teacher used to say that repeating the same words over and over again isn't acceptable in any form of literary work.

    Edit:

    @Okenba : Not sure which western novels you are reading, but the ones I'm reading are far more descriptive than what you depicted them to be. Rothfuss' Name of The Wind for example has World Building and lore to a scale that far eclipses the majority of Chinese Novels. Heck, his work is even dubbed as one of the best fantasies ever written in this generation. Not to mention, Rothfuss isn't even the greatest in terms of World Building. Authors like Brandon Sanderson, Anthony Ryan, Robert Jordan, Steven Erikson, amongst many others, who are on or even better than Rothfuss in that regard. Lastly, it would be an insult to fantasy fans if I forgot to mention Tolkien, who is said to be the father of modern fantasy. 

  • What is Flowery Language?

    As thank you, I will be elaborating on this point, "If language is Over certain level, using too ambitious words for the type of story that is being described."

    How do you know your language is over a certain level?

    When your target audience or nobody understand you. This can deduced when over period of time nobody gives response about your writing. This can be fixed by find the right niche audience or being the only one enjoying your writing.

    What does it mean to use to ambitious words?

    Using words that you don't understand the meaning, connotations, and potential symbolism. This also includes using words in appropriate timing. One should not describe peerless beauty in three paragraphs back to back. My personal advice, it to think about the feeling of the scene your trying to set. There should be little to no description on the sun you are  your trying describe the cold.

    Bad Ex.

    She was pretty a fresh splash of toothpaste.

    Good Ex.

    She was pretty as white jade.

    How do you know using the right words for story you trying describe?

    There is no right answer to this question or at least I think so. It's like asking what is love. It all depends on the person. The best advice that I can give is take considerations for you and at least one other.
  • Prose vs Poetry vs Prose Peotry


    Standard Writing vs Poetic writing vs Poetic Standard Writing.

    "Nearly all writing shares the goal of communicating a message to an audience , but how that message is communicated can differ greatly . The divisions between poetry and prose aren’t clear - cut, but here are some generally accepted differences. " ~readthink.org

    Standard Writing
    Standard speaking of the audience or time period.

    Poetic Writing
    Typical the more colorful languages that uses such techniques such rhyme,sound, verse, imagery and emotion.


    Poetic Standard Writing.

    Writing in normal language that preserves poetic qualities of words that brings out intense emotion and/or imagery.
  • edited November 2015
    A few of the biggest gripe for me in stories associated with this website:

    Show don't tell - we don't need the author the tell us how awesome or amazing or beautiful, etc. etc. something is. Just show us the details and let actions speak for themselves, no need to force feed us this garbage, we can decide for ourselves whether she is truly beautiful or if he is truly amazing.

    Another thing is 3 dimensional characters  - I don't think I need to elaborate on this.

    Lastly, meaningful and exciting combat - this is usually overlooked completely even though the novels are chocked full of it, it surprises me really.
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